<p>On &quot;Smash,&quot;&nbsp;Karen (Katharine McPhee)&nbsp;performs an after-hours audition for Derek (Jack Davenport).</p>

On "Smash," Karen (Katharine McPhee) performs an after-hours audition for Derek (Jack Davenport).

Credit: NBC

'Smash' - 'Pilot': Let me be your star

What did everybody think of NBC's new musical drama?

I posted my review of NBC's "Smash" on Friday, and a number of you weighed in on the show, having already watched it online. But I imagine some of you didn't get to see it until tonight's official premiere, and I'm curious what you guys thought of it. Did you like the songs, whether original or covers? (And once the songs shift into fantasy mode, would you prefer they stayed that way until the end, rather than toggling back and forth?) Do you have a favorite between Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty? Did you find the "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" number sexy or disturbing? (Several women I know who watched it initially thought something very bad was going to happen to Karen in that apartment.) And, most importantly, do you intend to keep watching? 

Though I didn't love the show, I find it interesting enough that I'm going to attempt some kind of weekly coverage. Some reviews may be longer than others, but there will at least be a venue for discussion of each episode. (No idea if NBC will be sending more out in advance past the first four; if not, don't expect posts until Tuesday morning sometime.) 

In the meantime, have at it.

Read Full Post
Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 114: 'Smash,' 'The River,' Super Bowl ads and more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 114: 'Smash,' 'The River,' Super Bowl ads and more

Dan and Alan also answer letters about '30 Rock,' casting news and reality TV

The

The Super Bowl has ended, and since Dan and I couldn't agree on an acceptable wager, the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast is the same as it ever was. We don't dwell on the game very much, but we do talk for a while about the underwhelming crop of commercials, before transitioning into reviews of NBC's "Smash" and ABC's "The River," and then a smattering of listener mail.

The line-up: 

Super Bowl commercials (01:15 - 20:40)
"Smash" (20:40 - 39:00)
"The River" (39:00 - 52:50)
Listener Mail - "30 Rock" (53:30 - 58:45)
Listener Mail - "Kid Nation" and stuff (58:45 - 01:05:45)
Listener Mail - Casting "exclusives" (01:06:25 - 01:13:25)
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Read Full Post
<p>&quot;The River&quot;&nbsp;is about the search for Bruce Greenwood's Dr. Emmet Cole.</p>

"The River" is about the search for Bruce Greenwood's Dr. Emmet Cole.

Credit: ABC

Review: ABC's 'The River' keeps the scares coming week after week

HitFix
B+
Readers
B-
Found-footage horror story from 'Paranormal Activity' creator works as a TV show

At first blush, horror is a genre that wouldn't seem to lend itself well to television. So much of what makes a scary story effective in a darkened movie theater shouldn't necessarily apply to a weekly series. You can maintain a sense of dread, or willingly suspend your disbelief about why the damn fools won't get out of the haunted house already, for two hours, but week after week for years? That's tougher.

But horror has had some past success on the small screen ("The X-Files," for instance, took more of its stylistic cues from horror than science-fiction), and we're in a mini-boom right now with AMC's "The Walking Dead" and FX's "American Horror Story." You can argue with how successfully each of those shows has tried to tell their ongoing stories — and even the "AHS" producers recognized they couldn't keep their story going past a single season, and will start over from scratch with a new idea and characters — but these are very big hits for their respective channels, and "Walking Dead" has a long-running comic book series to draw stories from for years to come.

And now comes "The River," the new ABC found-footage horror series from "Paranormal Activity" creator Oren Peli, which is debuting tomorrow night at 9. I watched the pilot months ago, was impressed by the level of suspense maintained throughout, yet wondered how on earth it would work as an ongoing series.

And having seen four additional hours since then (one of which will air after the pilot tomorrow night), I'm pleased to tell you that —for now, at least — it does work.

Read Full Post
<p>What are the &quot;Cougar Town&quot;&nbsp;characters so happy about?&nbsp;The season 3 highlight reel will give you a big clue.</p>

What are the "Cougar Town" characters so happy about? The season 3 highlight reel will give you a big clue.

Credit: ABC

'Cougar Town' season 3 trailer gives away the story to save the show

Creator posts spoiler-filled highlight reel to illustrate what the comedy has become

"Cougar Town" returns to ABC a week from tomorrow, at 8:30 p.m. on Valentine's Day. On the one hand, this is good news for a show that's been absent a long time. On the other, it has an extremely incompatible lead-in from "Last Man Standing," and it's been off the air so long (9 months since the last episode aired) that all but the real die-hard fans may have forgotten it exists, and — worst of all — it's still fighting the perception created by that off-putting title and the show's early episodes, neither of which remotely represent what the series became.

Read Full Post
<p>Theresa Rebeck (top row center)&nbsp;is the woman in charge of writing NBC's &quot;Smash,&quot; starring Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty and Christian Borle.</p>

Theresa Rebeck (top row center) is the woman in charge of writing NBC's "Smash," starring Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty and Christian Borle.

Credit: NBC

Interview: 'Smash' creator Theresa Rebeck

Veteran of TV and the stage tries to combine her two worlds in new NBC musical
When Steven Spielberg came up with the idea to make a TV drama about the production of a Broadway musical, there were few writers more qualified to take charge of the idea than Theresa Rebeck. Her career has gone back and forth through the world of both television, where she's written for "NYPD Blue," "L.A. Law" and "Third Watch," among others; and theater, where Alan Rickman is starring on Broadway in her latest play, "Seminar."
 
Spielberg, Rebeck, veteran songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (among many others) have collaborated to create "Smash," which debuts on NBC tonight at 10 (you can read my review here). The series stars Debra Messing and Christian Borle as a successful Broadway writing duo who begin working on a musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe, Anjelica Huston as their producer, Jack Davenport as their director and Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee as the two actresses vying for the lead role.
 
I spoke with Rebeck about the genesis of "Smash," the differences between her two writing careers, how the show is incorporating musical numbers into the action, what might happen if the show is successful enough to survive to a second season, and more.
 
Read Full Post
<p>Dennis Farina and Dustin Hoffman in &quot;Luck.&quot;</p>

Dennis Farina and Dustin Hoffman in "Luck."

Credit: HBO

'Luck' - 'Episode 2': Claim costs

Escalante and Ace both run cons, but only one goes well

A review of tonight's "Luck" coming up just as soon as I hear a voice from inside my pants...

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Sons of Anarchy&quot;&nbsp;stars Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal.</p>

"Sons of Anarchy" stars Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal.

Credit: FX

FX renews 'Sons of Anarchy' through season 6

Kurt Sutter extends his deal on the motorcycle club drama for three more years

FX has extended its deal for "Sons of Anarchy" through the show's sixth season, while creator Kurt Sutter has extended his own deal through what everyone assumes will be the show's seventh and final year. 

Read Full Post
<p>In one of two realities on &quot;Awake,&quot;&nbsp;cop Jason Isaacs' wife dies in a car crash, but his son (Dylan Minnette)&nbsp;survives.</p>

In one of two realities on "Awake," cop Jason Isaacs' wife dies in a car crash, but his son (Dylan Minnette) survives.

Credit: NBC

NBC schedules 'Awake' for Thursdays, bumping 'The Firm'

Low-rated legal drama moves to Saturdays

With "The Firm" tanking badly in the ratings in NBC's once-prized Thursday at 10 p.m. timeslot, the only question was exactly when NBC would pull it and whether it would be replaced by a pair of comedies ("Community" and "Bent," perhaps?) or by NBC's only unscheduled mid-season drama: "Awake." After "The Firm" pulled a pathetic 0.8 rating last night in the adults 18-49 demographic, it was finally decision time, and the answers are as follows: 

Read Full Post
<p>Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers on &quot;Grey's Anatomy.&quot;</p>

Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers on "Grey's Anatomy."

Credit: ABC

The Morning Round-Up: '30 Rock,' 'Big Bang Theory,' 'Up All Night' & 'Grey's Anatomy'

Jack vs. Jack, Leonard vs. Sheldon, Chris vs. his brother and one timeline vs. another

It's morning round-up time (afternoon, really), with quick thoughts on last night's episodes of "30 Rock," "The Big Bang Theory," "Up All Night" and "Grey's Anatomy" coming up just as soon as I tell Pat Riley the Funmeister says hi...

Read Full Post
<p>When did Jim and Pam go from being the most likable characters on &quot;The Office&quot;&nbsp;to the most annoying?</p>

When did Jim and Pam go from being the most likable characters on "The Office" to the most annoying?

Credit: NBC

'The Office' - 'Jury Duty': Father knows least

When did Jim and Pam become the worst people in the world?

I've mostly avoided writing about "The Office" this season because I didn't have anything new to say beyond what I wrote six weeks into the season. But where many of this season's episodes have just felt listless, last night's episode actually made me angry, and also made me want to talk a bit about the thing that annoyed me. So rather than ignore the episode, or give it one paragraph in a round-up post (which is coming later for "30 Rock" and a bunch of other shows), coming up just as soon as I use elaborate cross-hatching...

Read Full Post